Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hardwood Tree Habitat for Wildlife

Several years ago I planted a habitat for wildlife.  This habitat consist of hardwood trees;  White Ash, American Beech, Paper Birch, Boxelder Maple, Black Cherry, Flowering Dogwood, Rock Elm, and I also grow nut, pear and apple trees.  

Under the trees I did a scatter planting of berry bushes; black, raspberry and elderberry, these berry bushes feed birds and the forest animals.  
wildlife forage: elderberry

My tree habitat and berry producing shrubs have grown and now my yard is attractive to wildlife. In the spring a fine crop of  morel mushrooms will grow under the hardwood trees.  The morels grow at the base of the trees, where the ground is moist and rich and the air is humid from the spring rains. 

My wildlife habitat Image by SGolis

Growing a wildlife habitat has its benefits, once it is established it is easy to maintain.  You can harvest the fruits or you can leave the entire crop as forage for the wildlife.  

I have the best of nature, edible fruits and nuts, wildlife and succulent morel mushrooms in the spring.  If you have a small yard you can section off a sunny area and plant 2 or 3 hardwood trees or apple or cherry fruit tree, then add some berry bushes and a water fountain or bird bath By doing this you will attract birds and you may have a crop of moral mushrooms in a few years. If you enjoy nature then why don’t you plant a wildlife habitat this year.

Note:  The best time to plant trees and shrubs is in the fall or spring.  If you are undecided on what trees to grow why not start by planting a crabapple tree.  This tree has pretty flowers in the spring followed by small apple looking fruit in the fall.  Leave the fruit on your tree and it will provide birds and other wildlife food in winter.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Crabgrass Removal and Lawn Care

Crabgrass removal and lawn care is at the top of my to-do list. Today I went out to look at my yard and discovered patches of greenery in a lawn of brown. 

This week we had spring like temperature and full sun.  I suppose it was all that was needed to germinate the seeds. Crabgrass grows from a seed in spring when the weather is sunny and the temperature is in the mid 50's to 70's. 

 I am a firm believer that crabgrass needs to be addressed as soon as you notice it growing otherwise it will take over your yard. There is only one way to remove crabgrass and that is to kill it.

Here's how I removed crabgrass from my lawn:
.I sectioned off my yard by creating lawn care jobs.  I find this is a good way to complete yard tasks without getting overwhelmed.  I highlighted the backyard as an area that would need to be thatched.  Seems the crabgrass in this section was not removed in the fall.

This section is a top priority on my list.  I plan to take advantage of Fridays forecast for 58 degree weather, by starting my lawn care projects. 
Thatching Rake
To thin out the grass I will use my thatching rake.  Thatching rakes have curved tines which enable you to clear your lawn quickly and to loosen the top soil so that it is ready for pre-emergent herbicide or grass seed.
Normally I do not use a thatching rake on the lawn in the spring because it spreads crabgrass seeds but since I intend on killing the crabgrass I feel the thatching is needed so that the chemical can reach the soil'.  I will put the thatch in lawn bags and then when this job is completed I will then let my lawn rest. 

There is a cold front coming in and they are calling for snow flurries.  The cold will kill the crabgrass.  The forecast is calling for five days of cold weather followed by spring like temperatures.  

When the temperature reaches an average of 50 degrees I will apply the crabgrass pre-emergent herbicide. The herbicide will penetrate the soil and kill the crabgrass and other grassy weed roots.  It takes approximately seven days to kill the crabgrass and grassy weeds.  Then the dead crabgrass will be removed from the lawn with the thatching rake and my lawn will be crabgrass and weed free.  
So this week I am out of the office; I am taking the time to purchase the products that I need for my lawn care. If it is warm where you reside go outside and start your to-do list for your lawn and garden care. While outside listen to the birds and breathe in the fresh air.  Now is the time to rejuvenate and get ready for the spring season.  I hope you all have a good week and if you have any garden or lawn care question, please leave me a comment and I will get back to you.

Learn more about crabgrass and how to remove it from flower gardens by viewing youtube video:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Improve Plant Growth with Healthy Bare Root

Sorbet Peony grown from bare root

Improve plant growth by examining the bare roots.  A healthy bare root that does not have gray mold or root breakage will grow into a strong and healthy plant, tree, or shrub.  

Many gardeners order bare root plants and shrubs from magazines and online nurseries.  
These bare roots are plants that do not have soil surrounding them and the seller can ship them easily to the customer because the shipping is not hard on the plant, they do not require moisture and can be packed easily in peat moss.

Every year I will start to plan my spring and summer garden and I will take advantage of the late winter sales that are offered at the online and mail order nurseries.  

I find that these companies offer a good good selection of bare root plants and shrubs and that the prices are fair.  I like to order rose bushes, flowering shrubs and trees. 

 Over the years I have had better luck growing a bare root plants then planting a seedling that has been packed and shipped in the mail. I think my success in growing bare root plants is because I examine the root very carefully.

Bare root plants and shrubs are shipped when they are in a dormant state and depending on the time of the season, some of the bare roots may be wakening up and you will view new growth on the stems or branches. When you receive your bare root plants it is important that you inspect them.

Examine the root by checking for gray mold on the surface of the roots. If the mold coverage is light and does not cover the entire root then clean the mold off with a white cloth.  Dip the cloth in warm water and then gently wipe the gray mold from the roots.  (Use care to not break the roots.)   

If the mold is covering all of the roots and the roots feel soft then the plant is dead or close to being dead.

You also need to check the bare root for damage. The roots may have been damaged in shipping. Look for broken roots or bends in the root. Cut off the bend with a sharp garden scissors

 The root will then have the energy to grow well.  Remember a healthy bare-root will grow into a strong and healthy plant, tree or shrub.

Note: If your bare root is dead, or is in poor quality, take a picture of the bare root and contact the seller. Inform them of the poor quality and offer to send a copy of the invoice and a picture of the dead root. 

 Most sellers will accommodate the customer by offering a replacement or will refund your money.

Here is a YouTube video on how to plant bare root roses: